COA Task Force explores options for expanding curriculum

By on January 13, 2018

Expanding courses in trades was brought up. (COA)

Meeting on Monday at the Dare County Administration Building, the COA Task Force discussed how to expand course offerings at the College of The Albemarle Dare County campus.

With $7.5 million budgeted by the County to build a unified campus in Manteo, the Task Force is working to expand course offerings that will determine the redesign of the campus.

In his opening remarks, Task Force Chair and Hatteras Island County Commissioner Danny Couch defined the group’s expectations.


“Our charge is to aid COA officials as they develop their curriculum,” he said. “What is it the community is telling us we need to be teaching our kids?”

County Manager Bobby Outten outlined the process: “Let’s get our curriculum done then at the end, when we get the architects involved, we can start looking at the delivery. “

Task force members, COA officials, community representatives and state political leaders discussed how to determine which course offerings would have the best chance of success.

Speaking for State Sen. Bill Cook, Kathy Sparrow read a letter to the task force asking to inlude courses in commercial fishing and aquaculture. The request was a result of Senate Bill 112, which Cook had sponsored in 2015 urging coastal community colleges to offer courses in those areas.

“The potential for the industry in this state is huge,” the senator wrote.


COA officials, however, pointed out that a marine aquaculture program had been offered at the college but was closed down because of poor enrollment and that in Brunswick CC, which does offer aquaculture classes, only five students were enrolled.

The difficulty in establishing commercial and aquaculture courses underscored the issues facing the Task Force as it tries to determine curricula as Dare County Schools Chief Academic Officer Arty Tillett noted.

“We’re preparing kids for jobs that we can’t predict,” he said.


Tillett was able to show how Dare County Schools have become integrated into the COA system. His presentation titled “Career and College Now” also highlighted some of the challenges facing the Task Force.

County high school students are taking college-level courses through the dual enrollment classes and CTE or Career Technical Education courses. Both courses of instruction are typically offered through community colleges.

For the 2017-18 school year, 502 Dare County high schools students are dual enrolled in COA classes. With a minimum grade of C, dual enrollment credits are transferrable to any school in the North Carolina university system. offering students a financial and academic advantage.

CTE courses have 140 students enrolled this year, and task force members took note of the discrepancy between technical and academic disciplines, pointing out that in the past the emphasis on preparing students for college de-emphasized technical trades.

Many of the CTE certificates would lead to work in trades with stable employment and high earnings potential.

Area businesses have been consistent in asking for trained personnel with CTE certificates. Building trades and maintenance companies in particular have been reporting labor shortages, and that is part of a nationwide trend, according to a national survey from the National Association of Homebuilders included in the Task Force information packet for the meeting.

However, most of the students at the Dare Campus are taking general education or academic courses, with many of planning to go on to a four-year school. COA officials pointed out that their course offerings must reflect the classes where students are enrolled.

School Board member Joe Tauber in a public comment wondered if enough was being done to involve the parents.

“One of the components that we sometimes fail to consider is the parent,” he said.

He envisioned a discussion between parents and their children about what the child wants and what would be the best way forward.

“The future might not be a four-year institution,” he added.

Determining what the new Dare County COA curriculum will look like is still in the early stages and although there are some time constraints, they may not be as stringent as first thought. In the first meeting of the task force, Outten felt that there was an August deadline to insure funding because of county regulations.

He subsequently discussed the situation with County Finance Director Dave Clausen and came to a different conclusion.

“We’re not up against an exact August deadline,” he said. “If we were 30 days or 60 days past that we can work on that.”


  • COA

    The article references young people beginning their higher education experience.
    Most community colleges include significant adult enrollment, including early retirees seeking new skills for ‘encore’ careers, people in the workforce needing an upgrade or certificate, and many colleges recruit and serve immigrant students.
    COA might serve its mission considering recruiting expanded student populations, and using technology and advanced distance learning platforms to partner with other CC’s to deliver associate degrees and industry credit and non credit certificates.

    Sunday, Jan 14 @ 8:03 am
  • pat

    they should make real classes available like medical assisting and dental assisting..ect..where people of the county can get a real job ..not pottery and jewelry making..we are paying these teachers real money ..for what? to learn how to make jewelry?..we need real skills in THIS county not everyone can afford to go to EC.. 3 x a week.!

    Sunday, Jan 14 @ 11:34 am
  • Really?

    College courses for commercial fishing? Bill Cook stop smoking that wacky tobacco no amount of schooling is going to prepare for the back breaking workload that commercial fishing brings. If you really want to commercial fish, skip paying someone to learn the trade, find someone that is willing to teach you and be prepared to be sore and tired at the end of the day. Also be prepared the earn big bucks one week and be scraping the bottom of the barrel the next or being broke for months because the market and the fishing sucks. Bring courses that will actually help students like Pat suggested.

    Tuesday, Jan 16 @ 8:09 pm
  • EiEiO

    Teach our children skills that are needed in NC. North Carolina is second in the country in Solar and Wind farms for power generation, where are the classes/certifications for PV and Wind generation design? We have world class boat building in Wanchese which needs nautical designers, engineers, electricians, mechanics, etc.. The OBX also has a massive real estate market. Why not teach our future leaders about finance, accounting, real estate, property management, construction management, etc. We have medical offices and a hospital, why not offer course work that will give them the certifications that they need to obtain decent employment in those facilities?
    Offer classes/certifications that will allow these students to work right here on the OBX or from anywhere in the world via their computers. Lets teach our children the skills in which they can build a career with and use those tools and experience to improve the businesses on the OBX and afar.
    If the COA is having a hard time boosting enrollment in their courses, then increase your marketing efforts and educate the community on what you are offering. We live here because the OBX is a great place to live and we want our children to live, enjoy and thrive here as well. Lets give them the opportunity to develop skill sets to allow them to build successful careers and businesses for themselves right here at home.

    Friday, Jan 19 @ 8:03 am
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